Nothing turns out like I pictured it
Maybe the emptiness is just a lesson in canvases
– ‘Appointments’ Julien Baker
I am insanely lucky. I grew up in a suburban town with a great school and an amazing family. We always had enough and I never ever wanted for anything (despite what my teenage brain thought). My family was healthy. My friendships were mostly positive. I was healthy.
I did well in high school, I got into every college I applied to and got scholarships to every college (except the one I chose SORRY MOM). AND MY PARENTS PAID FOR MY TUITION AND HOUSING FOR ALL OF MY COLLEGE YEARS (thank you both so very much).
** I did have a job all through college but that was only to pay for my own expenses (read eating out and living in Charleston).
I AM INCREDIBLY LUCKY. I AM SO PRIVILEGED TO HAVE HAD THIS UPBRINGING.
I wanted to preface this post with this information because I know that I am lucky. I know that so many others have not had the opportunities that I have had. I know that my class and race have made my life so much easier than the lives of so many others. I am beyond thankful for the opportunities given to me, even though I did nothing to earn them besides existing.
No matter how privileged you are, life has a tendency to fall apart.
My parents got divorced my second year of law school in a sudden and upsetting way. Once again, I am lucky that this happened when I was old enough to be on my own, that there were no custody issues or child support. I am so thankful that I was 22 when I thought my life was falling apart. That was an exceptionally difficult year. My family had been (and continues to be) very close. It was predictable but an absolute shock that my dad had an affair and that our family changed. It’s essentially the basis of every television show, every movie, every real life story of suburban kids. Coming to grips with that dichotomy of the pain I felt and the absolute stereotype of it all was difficult.
It was heartbreaking and unoriginal.
Later that year I ended a five and a half year relationship with someone I loved but realized there was no feasible future with.
It was around this time that I was diagnosed with chronic depression and generalized anxiety. Again, I am very lucky that I had the resources to go to a psychiatrist, afford medication, and that I had friends that saw that there was something wrong and encouraged me to seek help when I wasn’t strong enough to see that as an option.
I found myself struggling to get out of bed, leave my house, get to class, respond to text messages, answer phone calls, to do anything productive at all. I worked hard to find an equilibrium that gave me the energy and control to accomplish what I needed to do and what I wanted to do.
Finally I graduated law school with my family in tow. I stayed up the night before my graduation until 3 am talking to my dad on the phone. Six months before I had told him not to come to my graduation in a place of hurt and abandonment. The night before my graduation all I could think about was that my J.D. had been something we had both wanted so bad and my heart was breaking that I didn’t think he would be there. I called him at 2 am to tell him. I spent my entire law school graduation hoping that he would be in the back row. My brothers waited in the back thinking he would be there.
He didn’t show.
But my family did. My 80 year old grandparents were there. My baby nephews were there. My mother and siblings were there. My second family Jim and Lee were there. My friends from high school and college came. We had a party at my favorite place in Columbia (Craft and Draft) and I had so many bouquets of sunflowers. I am so lucky and undeserving of the support and love that I received that day and continue to receive from the incredible people that I tricked into loving me.
I graduated law school with a job and a plan. I was going to study for the bar and live at my mom’s house, take the bar, and start my job. I studied. I took the damn thing. I started my job with my incredible colleagues and my brilliant judge. I enjoyed every. single. minute. of my job.
And then I failed the bar exam.
And the bad, horrible, atrocious, life-falling apart things kept coming.
But maybe Julien is right and that “emptiness is just a lesson in canvases.”
There isn’t an inspirational ending to this, but again there isn’t an inspirational ending to most things that are real. There’s hard work, there’s studying for another bar, keeping up with your mental health, THERE IS KEEPING UP WITH YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH THAT IS REALLY HARD AND SWEATY AND TERRIBLE, and there is just keeping up.
Be thankful for the people in your life. Be gentle with yourself.
Life falls apart and it takes work to put it back together again.